The Best of Fresh Cup 2022


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As the managing editor at Fresh Cup, I get the pleasure and honor of working with writers and seeing stories through from start to finish. I watch articles go from mere idea to fully-formed article, with our global team of writers often uncovering new insights far beyond what they initially imagined. This is just a testament to the tenacity and curiosity of those who write for Fresh Cup, and I can’t wait to see what these folks come up with in 2023—if you want to be one of those people, please pitch us

Getting a behind-the-scenes peek at articles also means there are pieces that hold a special place for me beyond what’s simply on the page. Perhaps I saw an author tenaciously go after a story, or they tackle an idea languishing on our running list of article ideas, or maybe they just had fun and wrote about something silly and irreverent, reminding me not to take coffee so seriously. There’s always something more behind every single piece on our website. 

Here are our top ten favorite stories of the year, what we’re calling The Best of Fresh Cup. This list goes beyond our most popular stories of the year, and we were actually pleasantly surprised to learn that many of our favorite stories also hit for our readers. It’s surreal we even published this much incredible work this year—we relaunched Fresh Cup in April!—but here are the pieces we hope you take some time with as we gear up for another great year. 

-Ashley Rodriguez, managing editor

The Beguiling Promise of a €1 Espresso

There are so many interesting tropes, traditions, and longstanding myths in coffee—including the idea that espresso should only cost €1 . Where did this idea come from? Author and historian Valorie Clark dives in. 

Rwanda’s Oldest Tea Factory Has Changed Hands: What Does That Mean?

A deal to turn over ownership of Rwanda’s oldest tea factory to 5,000 smallholder farms explores the relationship between international aid, empowering citizens, and recovery after war. 

Who Is Canned Cold Brew For?

Ready-to-drink (RTD) beverages have exploded in popularity—and coffee drinks are no exception. But who is canned cold brew for? This deep dive unpacks everything coffee people need to know about RTDs and why they’re here to stay. 

The Case For Sitting Behind the Bar

When we published this story by RJ Joseph, I believe one person tweeted, “Let baristas sit!” 

Inflation Continues to Hammer Coffee Workers in the US

Another powerful look at an important issue affecting coffee workers penned by RJ Joseph. Interesting tidbit: we were worried we wouldn’t be able to publish this story since we struggled to get insights from wage workers, but we turned a corner and heard from so many incredible voices to tell a vital story. 

Covid Case Study: What Happened at Specialty Coffee Expo?

Another direct and informative article from RJ Joseph. In April, thousands of coffee folks went to the annual Specialty Coffee Association Expo, and were met with less-than-ideal protocols and enforcement. 

Can Lasers Change The Way We Make Cold Brew?

Spoiler alert: yes.  

Contemporary Indonesian Specialty Coffee: A Chat with Three Coffee Processors

I think when Mikey first mentioned they were going to Indonesia, I casually said, “you should write about your trip.” They came back with this incredibly deep and thoughtful look at three coffee processors who are changing the game.  

South African Rooibos Tea Corporations Hand Over $700k to Indigenous Groups: Why Is This Important?

An article by Nyasha Bhobo discusses how rooibos tea was colonized and how this deal “could inform and influence how formerly colonized people are given back the resources taken from them.”

How Much You Should Really Spend on Rent?

A large percentage of our readers are business owners, and Haley Greene has found a way to always ask frank and important questions that people with shops need to know. I love this story in particular from Haley because it illuminates a bigger idea—talking about money—that often gets obscured. 

Thank you to all the writers who make Fresh Cup what it is, and thanks to you—the readers—for continuing to tune in and check us out! 

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Ashley Rodriguez

Ashley Rodriguez is the managing editor at Fresh Cup. She served as the online editor of Barista Magazine from 2016-2019 and is an award-winning beer writer and podcaster. She hosts a podcast called Boss Barista and writes an accompanying newsletter about coffee and service work.

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